Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Term 8: Love Isn't Always Easy, But It's TOTALLY Worth It

Term 8 was not a Term I had initially signed up to serve as a Cabin Parent. Sarah emailed me and I prayed over it, and I knew I was supposed to be there for that week. It has been YEARS since I've done two weeks back-to-back, but I knew it was a God Thing, so I jumped in with both feet.

I'll admit that since Term 8 is a mix of campers, I thought it would be an easier week than Term 7. In some ways that was true, and in other ways it was not so true. *grin* The cool part is that God doesn't waste time, so I learned A LOT last week. *giggle*

My first lesson (and there were several last week) that I want to write about is the lesson I learned about love.

Camper card night we learned that Blondegirl is known to bite, pull hair, hit, and spit. In addition to that, she is non-verbal. Honestly, that often goes together, as the individual can't turn to a person to say, "Hi, how are you?"

Stop for a moment and think about that.

What if you couldn't do that? What if you couldn't open your mouth and just say your thoughts?

I pondered that immensely throughout the week. (And the week before, as Anna was non-verbal for the most part too.)

I also pondered the fact you stick this young lady in a cabin full of ALL NEW PEOPLE, in a new bed, schedule, and out of control of SO MUCH for the span of a week. Nothing is familiar to her. Yes, she had been to camp before, but gosh, she was having to re-learn what she had learned the year before. I didn't blame her for initially pulling hair, spitting, and biting. She also couldn't use her voice to say, "I'm scared".

Needless to say, I liked her from the very beginning. *grin*

My only thought, a week later, is that I wish I had been there for the parent conversation when the parent and missionary talked about the "need to know" information for Blondegirl. Adult volunteers help new parents get comfortable with the camp life, so I missed that while I was introducing new parents to camp. While her missionary tried, I'm sure, I never heard the parent advice to use with her daughter. I'm sure that would have improved our learning curve for the week. The good news is, God guided us along the way. *grin*

So, we jumped right in with our girls.

Blondegirl was pulling hair right away. I was praying in my head like crazy for the key to this young gal so that the week would go well for her and the rest of our cabin. I wasn't getting anything as we did dinner and then got ready for the pool party. Due to a forecast of rain, the pool party was first up. In so many ways I think this is hardest on everyone because cabins have just received campers, and then the pool requires SO MUCH SUPPORT. However, both terms, everyone did it without complaint. I was proud of the ladies.

I NEVER swim at the night party. I can't even explain why, I just don't. Term 1 it's too cold. The others, well, I've just never done so. I do swim at camp, I just don't at the night party. I sit on the side of the pool with my feet dipped in and watch everyone. It always amazes me how the teens dive in and let the campers soak them, splash them, and go down the slides with them. That doesn't happen in the real world everyday, so I enjoy watching the swimmers. *grin*

Typically, people wind up coming over to sit by me throughout the evening. Most come and go, and some stay the whole time. It just depends on the week and the make-up of the cabin. *grin*

You won't be surprised to hear that Blondegirl came over and sat by me. She chose to sit by me, I didn't choose her. I said "HI!" and she pulled my hair. In that moment, I felt the Lord nudge me and say, "Just be consistent, but don't talk or give her the attention." Let me tell you, I was praying in my head the whole time.

Blondegirl pulled my hair, spit in my face, hit me, and bit me. I just kept eye contact with her. She didn't hold onto the bite, she just wanted her usual reaction, I believe. I did have bite marks, but it didn't break the skin. The whole thing felt like it lasted forever, but in reality it was probably a couple minutes. I remember holding onto the pool at one point and praying in my head, "Lord, help me reach her." When she was done she just put her arms down and looked at me. (That was also right after the whistle was blown to end the party and get out of the pool.) I kept eye contact and said softly, "I love you" and walked away. She heard me, I know she did.

I walked away and took a moment for me.

I cried a little.

Not because of the pain or anything fleshly.

I cried because I do that to God.

Yeah, God, I love you, but let me watch this TV show real quickly and then I'll spend time with you. Or, I love you, but I want to hang out with so-and-so.

The list could go on and on.

So, I took a moment with the Lord, put on dry clothes (because sitting by the pool always means clothes get wet) and joined my cabin at Wrap Up, followed by bedtime.

Over the next several days, hair-pulling continued, and we were all (myself included) challenged in so many ways to love Blondegirl. My love never stopped, and neither did hair pulling. However, the story doesn't end there.

I woke up on our last full day, took a moment with the Lord, and told Him my goal for that day was to show Blondegirl she was loved. That was a day that I will not forget. Ever. *grin*

The day started out the usual, but every chance I had I said, "I love you!" That isn't weird out at camp, by the way. It's actually the norm! (I said I love you earlier this week to someone who thought it was weird. I forgot it's a camp thing!) She would grin really big when I said it too. Without going into a long story, we wound up in the Silver Lining that afternoon, and she rested near her helper and would occasionally give me her hand/mitt. (Leadership gave her a mitt to cut down on the hair pulling.) I would hold the mitt, and let go when she wanted me to do so. She liked it. *grin* Before the party, after showers, she wound up letting several of us tickle her and play with her. Sometimes hair would be pulled, but it was less often. More than once, she pulled me close for a hug. That was truly what she wanted. Obviously, we're careful about affection at Camp, and we're NEVER alone with a camper, but she loved it.

During Cross Carry, she sat by me. She put herself by me, by choice. She flirted with boys, and let me speak her thoughts to the boys for her. She even waved to a Barnabas Board Member, and I called him over for her. It was really special, and an unforgettable night for me. During the actual praying of the cross, she got in there with us, and did great! Right after the cross was passed, she hugged me. (It's an emotional time for everyone, and hugs are common during Cross Carry.) It was amazing.

She went nuts when I said, "Tomorrow we go home." She said two words, "Momma, Dadda" and raised her fists! I had to wonder how much of the week she was homesick, but couldn't vocalize that. My heart kinda leapt for her in that moment, but then I smiled. I had to admit, I was missing Jay too. *giggle*

When we were back at the cabin later that night, she wanted me to tickle her, and I did. Then I asked her if she wanted me to leave her alone, and she shook her head "No." My thought, at that point, was that we were finally reaching her, and the week was almost over. She seemed happy though, so it was neat.

After Breakfast the next morning, we went back to the cabin. After I cleaned, I joined the crew on the porch. Guess what? She didn't pull my hair once! She simply kept pointing to where we could see parents and tapping me on the leg or arm. Yes, TAPPING, not hitting. *grin* I'll be honest, I was SO EXCITED!!!

After her Mom came and got her, and I left my friends at the cabin to go to the Shirt Shack, I told the Lord I got it.

See, for the most part, love has come easy in my world. Yeah, I've had some bumps, a broken heart a time or two, but overall, love has won.

Love has been easy.

Reaching Blondegirl wasn't easy. Something I failed to mention was that she loved to throw my glasses off too. Therefore, most of the week I walked around without my glasses on.

However, I never lost sight of Blondegirl. Truthfully, as the week progressed, I was determined to make sure she enjoyed camp and felt she was loved.

It's always the non-verbal, physically challenging ones that teach me the most. *giggle*

Can't be measured.
But can be felt.
Blondegirl felt it last week.
I did too.

No, love isn't always easy, but it's TOTALLY worth it!


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